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Bedtime: Epic, Tedious, Predictable

I'm alone with the kids this week while The Mama is out of town for work. Which is fine. My day is actually great either way because of routine. Kids get up, have coffee, they drink milk and eat cereal, get dressed, bus comes, mid-morning activity for Leda and myself, Cole comes home from school, snack, 30 min of cartoons, nap.

Then it all goes south.

Depending on who gets up first, when, and their moods, it can be a relaxing snack on the couch together. Or it can be several hours of hitting, screaming, and crying until bedtime. Getting out of the house generally solves this problem so it's a great time to catch them well-rested for a playdate, the playground, etc.. Other days it can be a long wait until 7pm when Cole's bedtime starts.

I'm not going to complain...much. Because we're not one of those families with kids crawling into bed with us in the middle of the night. There are no repeated requests for a glass of water. No waking up scared of the dark. Once they fall asleep, they sleep through the night 99% of the time now. But you have to get them there first.

Bedtime with these two--especially now that they are sleeping in the same room together and especially alone where you don't have a "good cop" (or is that "bad cop?")--is a 2 hour long affair. Ok, maybe not every night. If you play your cards right, it takes 45 min. It starts with getting pajamas on. Then there are chocolate milks to obtain. Followed by somewhere between 2 and 4 books to read. You turn the music on for Cole...but Leda leaves the room. He usually asks you to stay and lay with him for a few songs. On an evening with two parents, attempts to flee usually result in a request to have the other parent come say goodnight. Then, hopefully, you can work on Leda.

She's much more difficult and her problem lately is repeated false starts with going to her "big girl bed." Which sounds more like "girl bed" when she says it. At 8pm--sharp--the lights go off and it's time to settle down. Sometimes, you get lucky and she asks to go into her bed, get tucked, and you're done by 8:15pm. Last night, she popped in front of the kitchen gate several times while I was attempting to do dishes. Many nights, we simply rule that she may no longer try to fall asleep in her bed because she's keeping her brother awake. So we make her fall asleep on one of us on the couch. Last night, it was 9:30pm before I was absolutely sure they were both tucked in their beds without the possibility I'd be getting called (Cole) or a living room visit (Leda).

It's not so much that either of them is "difficult" or out of the norm. What makes it tedious is that there's two of them with very different "styles" of falling asleep. He plays until he's exhausted. She throws tantrums, would never remember to fall asleep if you don't remind her, and doesn't like to be alone. He likes music. She likes to fall asleep to soothing white noise from a stuffed sheep. They're always a study in contrasts.

We just wish that the nightly bedtime parade had a few more shortcuts now and then. The Mama never believes me when I tell her how easy naptime is. (Or how wonderful Leda is on our mornings alone, for that matter!) Naptime, by comparison, you read one book, turn the music on and Cole is gone. Leda is asleep on the couch within 15 minutes on a normal day.

It also doesn't help that darkness is coming later and later. When they see daylight still at 8:30pm, it only makes a parent's job harder.